Parks Pit Report: Auto Club 400

He’s not a bridesmaid this time. Kyle Larson is victorious in 2017.

It’s not often where I can relate to a NASCAR driver.  Now I admit the closest I’ve ever been to being behind the wheel of one of these cars is sitting inside the show car that some teams take around for displays.  However, in this instance I can relate to Kyle Larson to an extent.

This season, through four races, the driver that has consistently been at the front at the end of these races has been the No. 42 Chevrolet.  That’s evident because in the first four races, Larson has finished runner-up on three occasions.

He was so close to victory, he could literally taste it.  But, his day ended with him being second-best, the bridesmaid if you will.

I can relate because of some experiences in life where I felt I had the best effort, or the best work, but it was proven to be just short of what was needed.

But, I didn’t let it keep me down, and instead used it as motivation to continue to go after that victory.  Eventually it was to come, but after a lot of work and perseverance.  Larson was in the same boat, and this was his second go-around for it.  During his rookie season in 2015, he had so much talent, but just couldn’t break through and accomplish that victory.  However, in doing so, he garnered a lot of respect from the competition.  He raced clean, but hard.  He wasn’t going to spin a driver to get a position, but he would rub fenders if needed.

When Larson won last year in Michigan, it was a feel-good win for not just him, but for the sport.  So many drivers walked into victory lane, shaking his hand and the team as well.  The worst feeling in NASCAR is coming so close to victory, but only end up one position short.

To finally break through and get that first win of the season this weekend for Larson, it’s a lot easier to have it now rather than waiting so long for that first one.

Five races into the season, Larson has the points lead, and a strong guarantee that he is going to be in the NASCAR Playoffs when September comes.  If he’s a top contender to win the championship is not yet known, but at least for this weekend he is no longer the one that ended up one spot shy of victory.

Instead he’s the one that ended up in the one spot meaning victory.

STAGE 1 WINNER:  Kyle Larson

STAGE 2 WINNER:  Martin Truex Jr.

RESULTS:  1-Larson  2-Keselowski  3-Bowyer  4-Truex Jr.  5-Logano  6-McMurray  7-Suarez  8-Kyle Busch  9-Blaney  10-Elliott

NOTABLE FINISHES:  13-Harvick  14-Hamlin  16-Earnhardt Jr.  21-Johnson  24-Kurt Busch

CAUTIONS:  7 for 29 laps.  Lap 5-7 (#2, 48 Incident-T4); 62-67 (Stage 1 Conclusion); 122-127 (Stage 2 Conclusion); 181-184 (#23 Incident-T1); 186-189 (#20, 78 Incident-T2); 193-195 (#83 Incident-T2); 198-200 (#5, 6, 17 Incident-T2).

LEAD CHANGES:  17 among 8 drivers.  K. Larson 1-5; P. Menard 6-7; K. Larson 8-32; C. Elliott 33-34; J. Logano 35; M. Truex Jr. 36-47; K. Larson 48-63; M. Truex Jr. 64-90; C. Elliott 91-92; M. Truex Jr. 93-122; K. Larson 123; M. Truex Jr. 124-127; K. Larson 128-155; Kyle Busch 156-162; T. Dillon # 163; K. Larson 164-192; D. Hamlin 193-196; K. Larson 197-202.

TIME OF RACE:  2 Hrs, 57 Mins, 46 Secs.

AVERAGE SPEED:  136.359 MPH

MARGIN OF VICTORY:  0.779 Seconds

POINT STANDINGS (Points/Behind Leader [Playoff Points]):  1. Larson, 243 [6]; 2. Elliott, -29 [1]; 3. Truex Jr, -38 [8]; 4. Keselowski, -64 [5]; 5. Logano, -69 [1]; 6. McMurray, -81; 7. Blaney, -86; 8. Bowyer, -100; 9. Harvick, -106 [3]; 10. Kyle Busch, -107 [1]; 11. Newman, -120 [5]; 12. Hamlin, -120; 13. Kahne, -121; 14. Kurt Busch, -125 [5]; 15. Jones, -127; 16. Bayne, -129.

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